How many watts are enough? What about reliability problems? Will a food mixer attachment work?
Make burgers, sausages and meatloaf at home. While a manual meat grinder may work for small amounts of meat; an electric grinder makes all the difference when grinding up a whole freshly-hunted deer, or pounds of discount frozen meat bought in bulk.
Like any kitchen appliance with a powerful motor, meat grinders are loud. And cleanup will take some time with any grinder. But home-grinding meat means knowing exactly what goes into that burger or sausage. It also means knowing the quality and freshness of the meat, how much fat is included. Not to mention saving a dollar or two.
Electric meat grinders for home use can cost less than 100 dollars, with most consumer models costing less than 200. Meat grinder attachments for food mixers cost about 50 dollars.
Popular brands include Kitchenaid, Waring Pro, Moulinex, Panasonic, Villaware, Cuisinart, Maverick and Oster.
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How to Choose an Electric Meat Grinder
Consumer meat grinders can range in power from 150 to 500 watts, with 300 watts being average. 1000 watt models are available but are less common. “Peak watts” can only be sustained for a short time, so it’s best to ignore the peak watts rating and look at the “normal” watts.
A 300 watt meat grinder can grind about 2 pounds (1 kilogram) of meat every minute. Even 150 watt grinders will give decent performance if used properly: fed with meat strips or cubes less than an inch thick. For trouble-free operation, all grinders no matter what the power, should be fed only small pieces of meat.
More important than power is reliability and durability. Unfortunately, the bane of modern electrical appliances – plastic gears – have made their appearance in meat grinders. The best way to ensure durability is to get a grinder with all-metal gears. Few manufacturers will advertise the fact that their products use plastic gears. Some research will be required to sniff out this information.
Plastic gears can last if the grinder isn’t overloaded. As with low power grinders, only small strips or cubes of meat should be fed in.
The body and auger (feed screw) can be made out of aluminum or plastic. This is fine and shouldn’t affect durability much even though stainless steel is preferred (but unlikely, considering the price of home grinders).
Most meat grinders aren’t designed to grind bones. Pet owners who wish to grind boned meat for pet food should look for a grinder that the manufacturer says is meant for bones. They can also try their luck with the highest wattage all-metal grinder they can find.
A reverse switch to unjam the grinder is almost mandatory. Many grinders come with a reset switch for the built-in overload circuit breaker.
Warranties can be as low as one month, though a few years is common.
Meat Grinder Blades and Plates
The cutting blade (knife) and plate (disc) should be made out of steel. Carbon (non-stainless) steel is common, for performance reasons as they hold an edge better than stainless steel. They do need to be quickly cleaned (meaning no dish washer) and wiped with cooking oil to prevent rust.
Stainless steel blades and plates are available and will be preferred by most cooks even if they do blunt more quickly. Stainless steel is best if fruit and vegetables are ground as these foods will rust steel more quickly. Aluminum is too soft to cut well and should be avoided.
Most blades and plates come in standard sizes. If the original pieces are not satisfactory or worn out, third party replacements can be found, especially online.
Most grinders will come with 3 plates, each with different sized holes for different coarseness of ground meat. Funnels of different sizes are also commonly included, to be used as sausage-stuffers. More than one funnel is needed to make sausages of different sizes.
Pasta-making accessories can also be purchased for some grinders.
Food Mixer Meat Grinder Attachment
Food mixers such as Cuisinart and Kitchenaid have optional meat grinder attachments.
They use the food mixer’s motor, so they are cheaper (about half the price) as no motor is provided. There are also no worries about plastic gears unless the food mixer itself has plastic gears. Storage space is reduced as well.
One unexpected issue is height. The attachment is attached near the top of the mixer. This can place the top of the grinder’s feed tube out of reach of shorter people, unless a stool is used.
The food mixer speed should be set on low, even for high powered 500 watt mixers. And of course the meat should first be cut into small pieces.
The Best Electric Meat Grinder
There are grinders to meet every budget and performance requirement. For occasional light use, a cheap low power grinder with plastic gears can be sufficient.
Because durability is an issue with grinders, it is safer to buy a name brand that is backed up by a decent warranty.
Most important is to feed only small pieces of meat into the grinder.